Why Hebrews Instructs Us to Leave the Doctrines of Christ

by Joshua Tilghman on July 2, 2012


Ever wonder who Jesus was really supposed to be? Today I am going to focus on a few special verses from the book of Hebrews and it is my sincerest hope that these verses will help clear up many misconceptions you may have about Jesus, the human condition, and the true intent and purpose of the Bible.

There are a lot of articles on the net talking about who Jesus was. While this is an important question to ask in the beginning of one’s New Testament journey, there comes a time where a little bit of maturity on our part should prompt a different kind of discussion about Jesus: namely, one that focuses on what Jesus represents.

To help us grasp this concept, let’s look to some very controversial verses in Hebrews chapter 6.

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Heb. 6:1-2).

How strange! The author of Hebrews is letting us know that those who focus on the doctrines of Christ—baptism, repentance, faith, and eternal judgment— are immature! And even though the author doesn’t say it directly, we get the sense that he is mocking those who don’t realize the greater purpose of the Gospel message because they have sacrificed it for simplistic thinking. In verses just prior to the two I presented above, the author calls this kind of Christian a “babe” who is unskillful in the word of righteousness! In other words, whoever is guilty of such a thing has missed the entire point of Jesus’ role in the Gospels. From these two verses we also can glean that the same problem of interpreting the Gospel message existed in ancient times as it does now: as a Christian culture, we are still hung up on doctrine (religion) instead of true inner transformation. This sounds harsh, and it is! It should also be a wake up call.

The first time I read this verse, I instantly knew that my confusion stemming from all the Sunday church sermons I was hearing was justified; there really was something more to the gospel message than simple doctrine! My heart’s attitude toward the potential transforming power of the Biblical message was renewed and I knew that these verses proved there was something more than the milk I was hearing over and over again on Sunday morning. For the first time in many years I was able to say, maybe there is true power invested in the story of Jesus Christ and his mission to humanity. And then it hit me! The story of Jesus Christ is not so much about who Jesus was (more ideas and doctrine), but instead about what he represents. It was also then that I figured the Bible had some pretty deep messages hidden beneath the veneer of literal interpretation. After a few more years of intense searching and studying, I found I was right!

If we are honest with ourselves, we should admit that we have an entire Christian culture built around these very doctrines that the author of Hebrews tells us to leave! It’s everywhere. This shallow and simplistic way of thinking about the Bible and the Jesus story seems to be the focus of so many Christians. Getting people “saved” by making a verbal statement and believing some simple formula is supposed to completely transform the individual into a “new creature” in Christ, but rarely does this happen unless that same individual sticks it out and grows in maturity by leaving these doctrines and learning the deeper message. And even though they might not realize they are doing this, the ones who are transformed from the inside out truly have.

So we must understand that the author of Hebrews is letting us know that these doctrines—and all doctrine for that matter—are for the immature in Christ. There is something far more important and greater that humanity is to strive towards besides doctrines (which always lead us to more and more denominations and division).

So what is the deeper message that we should be focused on? For starters, this question returns us to the statement I made at the beginning of this post: the focus should not be on who Jesus was, but rather what he represents. And what is that?

When we leave the exoteric (outer, literal) interpretations of the Biblical stories and focus on the esoteric (inner, spiritual) revelations of the stories it becomes so simple. In fact, one verse in the previous chapter of Hebrews sums it up on a grand scale:

“Though he (Jesus) were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8).

Think about it. Even God himself had to go through the process of learning obedience by the things which he suffered. In esoteric terms, this verse means that Jesus matured by the experiences he endured as a human. Wait a minute! Isn’t this what we have to go through? Isn’t this the same process from which we mature also? Of course it is.

In the Gospels Jesus is presented as being both fully human and fully divine. At first this seems like a blatant contradiction. But it isn’t a contradiction at all when you realize that the human experience is also about the divine. Aren’t we made in the image of God? You must realize that you too are both fully human and fully divine! Every human is born with the spark of the divine within them, and only through this realization does the human condition become meaningful in the process of life and death. Why?

Because we too must learn obedience through the things that we suffer. In other words, we too grow and mature through the experiences of life.

Therefore Jesus is understood through what he represents and not who he was. And ultimately, he represents US! The gospel message and story of Jesus is about US! Jesus’ life-story is OUR life story. The same process of self-realization that Jesus went through by the things that he suffered—humanity to divinity—is the same self-realization process that we must go through by the things from which we suffer. It is all about the experience of life. So being made in God’s image is also about being made to realize the divine spark within!

And Jesus—at least for those of us who have moved into maturity—represents the true nature that resides beneath these fleshly bodies we inhabit as we sojourn on this earth. He is the author and perfection of our salvation because we know that he represents not another doctrine, but rather a way of life. And following him doesn’t mean we have to believe this or that. It means we strive to be like him and realize what lies “within” us.

This is where true maturity begins. This is where true divinity begins. Discovering the mystery of the human condition is perhaps the greatest mystery of all, and going “within” ourselves is without a doubt the greatest journey we could ever embark on.

Our next blog post will look as Jesus’ 40 day sojourn in the desert and how this represents our own internal struggles. If we can overcome them, then we can truly experience what Jesus represents for us and not just know it.

If you enjoyed this article, please don’t forget to spread the love through the social buttons at the top or button of this post. Thank you!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Rhonda September 4, 2012 at 2:38 am

Hello Jonathan,
Thankyou again,
Just one thought…”It means we strive to be like him and realize what lies within us”. ..that sounds so much like what I heard in churches all the time…Strive to be like Jesus! Back then it confused and frustrated me and was dependent on all the doctrines and rules and regulations of religion. Perhaps to put it another way…?
When we work at seeking the divine within ourselves…being led by the ‘still small voice’ …(letting “no man teach you”, but letting the Spirit of God who dwells in you teach you all things”)… then we continually and naturally become more ‘like him’. We are “transformed from glory to glory”. Freedom and joy came to me when I stopped trying to become like Jesus…a man who may or may not have lived 2000 odd years ago…realized whether myth or historical figure the figure of Jesus Christ was to show me who ‘I’ was not who ‘he’ was and put into practise seeking the truth within.
I have been sharing your blogs with my adult children and other family and friends some, who are enjoying them and some who are quite challenged by them!
Blessings to you.

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Joshua Tilghman September 6, 2012 at 5:57 am

Rhonda,

I appreciate the encouragement. I also appreciate you sharing with your adult children and friends. I care very much about people learning to appreciate the Bible for what it is. Too many people have interpreted it on a very shallow literal level for so long.

I also understand your hang up on a few of my words from the post. We definitely aren’t supposed to live like a man did 2000 years ago, and that’s one of the biggest problems the church has today. Thanks for pointing this out.

Blessings, Rhonda!

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Brandon November 4, 2012 at 10:34 am

Joshua – again I cannot thank you enough for the work you have done here. I think that Heb. 6:1-2 may be my new favorite verse. As a child I struggled greatly understanding what was being taught to me in church even to the point of literally laying awake at night in terror that a bad thought would pop in my head or trying to wrap my head around eternity. Having kids of my own now I see how literally they take everything, I mean super literal. So in a way the church reminds me of children. I have no hard feelings for the church after all they did preserve these stories and scriptures. Your blog has made me come to another realization. When Christ says that because of following him the world will reject you makes so much sense now. If you are following him and resisting the ego you will not fit in with the world. Ego is everywhere on both sides of everything. From religion arguments to taking sides in pro sports the way news is reported, everything. If you are in the church for external reasons it is actually an advantage, the church I grew up in was way more of a social and lunch club than anything. Most of the most popular kids in my school were in some kind of FCA type groups which gave them many advantages the world sure wasn’t rejecting them why because that was all pure ego at work and the world loves that.I was always uncomfortable with seeing people pray out loud or in large groups it seemed to go against everything prayer is supposed to be. The struggle with the ego is one we all face alone just as Jacob wrestled with the angel alone but we can encourage each other and read the tales of others who have taken the hero’s journey before us.

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Joshua Tilghman November 4, 2012 at 10:53 am

Brandon…

Your comment about enjoying the church as a social club is so true. I have actually had a lot of fun at churches that don’t take things so seriously, such as the ones that put more emphasis on fellowship, shooting the breeze, and are active in the community helping one another. That’s what it is all about. If I ever visit a church that starts harping on bad doctrine, I don’t usually visit again. I have nothing against it, but that sort of teaching doesn’t teach the true principles of Christ.

Thanks for putting so much into this comment. Blessings!

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anny May 5, 2013 at 6:30 am

Hi Joshua, I have a comment on this quote of yours:

Because we too must learn obedience through the things that we suffer. In other words, we too grow and mature through the experiences of life.

It is a matter of choice here. We do not automatically grow and mature through the things that we suffer. All too often we complain about them, are indignant and wonder why God allows such things to happen to us and become bitter.

It is only when we consciously decide to look at what happened from a different perspective that we are able to learn from it and mature. There is a biblical image which I already shared before which makes it all so clear. When we take the bitterness in our lives and ‘eat’ it, that means digest and process it, then we can even experience whatever it is as sweet because it helped us to grow. This meaning is hidden in the Hebrew word tamar, 400-mar, which is the bitterness of the ultimate suffering of slavery/addiction (‘400’ years in Egypt) or the cross. A tamar is a date (the fruit) and it is sweet but you will never know that if you do not ‘eat’ it.

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Paula Kempf September 26, 2013 at 10:07 pm

I thought you might like to know that I amsharing your pages with any one who will hear me. I AM ALSO SHARING TO MY FACEBOOK AND EMAILS AND OVER ON THE REGATHERING, A JIM STALEY PAGE 🙂

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Joshua Tilghman September 28, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Paula,

I really do appreciate you taking the time to share the info. I’ll have to check out the Regathering as I’m not familiar with it. Blessings!

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Joshua Tilghman October 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Leo,

You are most welcome! Thanks for commenting!

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Betty Alark October 25, 2013 at 12:47 pm

So obviously the doctrines must have served an initial purpose in order for us to move away from them – Would that be your assesment also?

It seems to me the doctrines had to be made known and teach what they taught and then moved away from to greater understanding. They laid a foundation to begin with– a starting point. Is that not true to you?

Which takes me back to what I asked before: What would have been the foundation that would have taken us into light or enlightenment if there had never been any doctrines or religious teachings? How would we have come into the knowledge of the Christ consciousness; or for that matter called it the Christ consciousness?

As stated in a former post– I grew up as an introvert– I lived with the inner me- it never departed from me. I knew what I was and who I was in that sense. In addition – I sensed the other realms and guides, and knew there was a Creator since all I had to do was to look around; I also realized that my soul was in torment and needed salvation and that there was no one around that could lift me out of the torment or in essence could save me. It wasn’t until I came was introduced to Jesus that my soul was healed.

Granted I was never taught to call out to God without religion being imposed upon me; however, if religion never had existed, I can only wonder what the experience in the physical would have been like; but ill never know that.

So again I ask- how would we have come into this Christ conciosness without religion?

What would we call it? Can you be certain that we would have come to know all that you are conveying if religion had not been apart of the physical experience.

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Joshua Tilghman October 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Betty, I think you are right. I certainly would have never discovered the esoteric interpretation of the Bible had I not first been immersed in church doctrine. The fact that religion unfolded the way it did speaks of the need to have a exoteric and then an esoteric interpretation. But the problem comes when people become “stuck” in the exoteric version. It would be much better to have mature teachers who gently led their congregation members from the literal interpretation to the spiritual interpretation once the disciple was ready. Usually this readiness comes from doubt and skepticism, but the stubbornness of many literalists will often turn someone who is ripe for esoterics into atheists.

In the end, I believe everyone will come around, be it in the next life or many down the road!

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